Air Canada pilots’ union to seek conciliator, says sides too far apart in talks

Air Canada pilots’ union to seek conciliator, says sides too far apart in talks

Air Canada pilots intend to seek help from a federal conciliator to help in stalled contract negotiations with the airline, the union that represents them announced Sunday.

The Air Line Pilots Association, which represents more than 5,000 Air Canada pilots, said the two sides are no closer to reaching an agreement despite a year of contract negotiations, including about six months of voluntary mediation.

“Unfortunately, Air Canada continues to undervalue your contributions to the success of this airline,” said Charlene Hudy, head of the union’s Air Canada contingent, in a video message to members.

He said that while the talks have allowed the two sides to reach important agreements, they remain too far apart in the negotiations, which is why the pilots will abandon the voluntary process on June 15.

The union says it will file a notice of dispute to inform the federal Minister of Labor that they attempted, without success, to reach a collective agreement, and to ask the minister to appoint a conciliator.

Air Canada said in a statement that the airline remains committed to reaching a fair negotiated settlement.

“Air Canada has worked hard and in good faith to reach a new collective agreement with ALPA under the negotiating protocol and the discussions conducted under the negotiating protocol led to significant progress,” he said.

The airline said it will continue to push for an agreement in the coming months under the normal negotiation process, insisting that customers can continue to book and travel with confidence on Air Canada.

Canadian pilots have been seeking gains that bring them closer to deals achieved by their counterparts in the US.

Between March and September of last year, pilots at Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and American Airlines won deals that included four-year pay increases ranging from 34 to 40 percent.

Hudy has called the pay gap between Canadian and American pilots “unacceptable.”

The Canada Labor Code stipulates that the minister has up to 15 days to appoint a conciliator, after which a 60-day talking period begins. If no agreement is reached in talks, there is a 21-day cooling-off period before the union is in a position to go on strike.

Last week, WestJet Encore reached an agreement with its pilots to narrowly avoid a potential strike.